The overarching theme of the Boosting Diagnostic Capacity for Plant Production Industries Project is to increase Australia’s ability to detect and diagnose key plant biosecurity threats. This will help to improve the likelihood of being able to prevent, contain or eradicate future incursions of plant pests and disease.
The Tasmanian component of the project, led by Plant Diagnostic Services from Biosecurity Tasmania, will focus on National Priority Plant Pests* (NPPPs) relevant to Tasmanian plant production industries and will aim to increase both in-field and laboratory detection and diagnostic capacity. This will be achieved by working with industry networks, Biosecurity Operations Branch staff and laboratory staff within Plant Diagnostic Services.
Presentations and workshops will be offered on plant pests, diseases and biosecurity to stakeholders in industry and biosecurity operations. This will include information on NPPPs and existing endemic pests present in Tasmania. These activities aim to:
Increase participants pest and disease recognition skills
Increase awareness and knowledge of NPPPs and biosecurity
Increase sample submission to Plant Diagnostic Services laboratories through the production and supply of sample submission kits
The project team will work with industry and other stakeholders to hold bioblitzes in two regions to determine which pests are present. A bioblitz is a survey that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area or crop over a short period of time.
This will give a snapshot of what currently exists in the surveyed crop types and will serve to enhance other surveillance activities that help demonstrate the freedom of key pests.
Improved Laboratory Capacity
Activities aimed at increasing Tasmania’s laboratory capacity will also be undertaken such as:
Improving holdings of NPPPs in the Tasmanian Agricultural Insect Collection to assist diagnostic capacity
Undertaking laboratory training and proficiency testing activities for key NPPPs
Production of a draft National Diagnostic Protocol for Tropilaelaps mite a key pest of honeybees which are included in this project because of the essential role honeybees play in the pollination of plant-based industries.
National Priority Plant Pests
To help target the highest priority exotic plant pests and diseases in Australia, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has identified National Priority Plant Pests (NPPP). The NPPP list is a set of 42 pests or pest groups that are a focus for government action because of their potential impact on plant production or the natural environment.
This list was endorsed by Australia’s Plant Health Committee in 2019. Pests on this list were selected because of the likelihood of entry into Australia, their ability to become established and spread, and their potential impact to plants and plant industries.
High Priority Pests (HPP) have been identified as the most significant exotic threats affecting various plant industries. These are identified in individual Industry Biosecurity Plans available by request from Plant Health Australia. Many of these are also listed as NPPPs.
See further information on some key pests and diseases (some of which are NPPPs).
National Project Background
The Boosting Diagnostic Capacity for Plant Production Industries Project is a cross-industry Australia-wide project concentrating on high priority exotic pests that threaten production, trade and market access.
The project will improve the ability to detect pests in-field by increasing the diagnostic capacity of both industry and governments. It will also enhance the sensitivity of laboratory diagnostic tools to create improvements in the diagnosis of suspect pests and diseases. Laboratory identification improvements will be achieved by developing national diagnostic protocols, improved diagnostic tools and methodologies, along with establishing reference collections to support diagnostic functions.
The project is led by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and includes research partnerships with agricultural departments from each state and the Northern Territory, along with the CSIRO, Cesar, AusVeg Limited, AgriFutures Australia and Plant Health Australia, as well as two New Zealand collaborators, Bio-Protection Research Centre and the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited.
This project is funded through the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Rural R&D for Profit program and in conjunction with the Grains R&D Corporation, Cotton R&D Corporation, Horticulture Innovation Australia, Wine Australia, Sugar Research Australia and Forest & Wood Products Australia.